The Kingdom on June 27 celebrated the UN’s International Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Day for the first time, with the aim of raising awareness to these businesses’ need for support towards development and success.

The inaugural MSME Day was observed in a video conference on “Recovery and Resilience of Micro and Small Enterprises in Covid-19” via Zoom, with the participation of about 200 representatives of various ministries, businesses and development partners.

The conference was organised by the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, in cooperation with the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and under the auspices of minister Cham Prasidh.

Speaking at the event, the minister said that – with the development of additional policy and regulatory frameworks such as a small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) law, national SME promotion strategies and SME cluster regulation – his ministry expects to lay the foundation to “harness the true potential of Cambodian MSMEs”.

Earlier this month, the ministry, with the support of GIZ, announced the launch of the KhmerSME portal and its integration into the regional information platform “ASEAN Access” which would link Cambodian businesses to the ASEAN market and beyond.

“We are not only addressing the pre-existing and rising challenges facing Cambodian MSMEs before and during the pandemic, but we are also looking at providing a much needed ecosystem, infrastructure and support for these enterprises to be more competitive, more innovative and more resilient in preparation for the post-Covid-19 recovery, in what everyone calls ‘the world’s new normal’ and may soon be called ‘the world’s never normal’.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank relevant ministries, development partners, line departments at the national and provincial level, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders for their support of our MSMEs during these darkest times, and their hard work in making this vision highlighted just now become a reality,” the minister said.

Speaking at the conference, GIZ acting country director for Cambodia Bettina Gruber said her agency, in cooperation with the government and industry ministry, aims to work not only to support MSMEs in their recoveries, but also to secure a more resilient future for them.

This, she said, would entail boosting their long-term competitiveness, developing well-balanced local supply chains, and improving access to regional and international markets, supported and enabled by technology and innovation.

“I believe that together we can create a favourable environment that will allow for the development of new skills and foster innovation, allowing Cambodian MSMEs to go beyond the Covid-19 crisis with its huge economic and social impact.

“Excel in the new normal as well as to become more competitive, more innovative and more resilient than ever. In the wake of Covid-19, the physical restriction placed on global economies has driven the acceleration of digital solutions.

“For those MSMEs which will be able to take their operations online, digitalisation may play a key role in developing long-term sustainability and resilience. With those opportunities in mind I would hope that this event and the celebrations today mark one important step towards a new chapter of progress and development for Cambodia´s MSMEs,” Gruber said.

In Cambodia, SMEs make up 99.8 per cent of all businesses, employ 70 per cent of the labour force and contribute an average of 58 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the latest labour ministry figures show.